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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Anger at Pakistan judge hearing
Iftikhar Chaudhry arrives at the Supreme Court (file pic)
Mr Chaudhry has won a reputation for judicial independence
Hundreds of Pakistanis have protested outside the country's Supreme Court against President Pervez Musharraf's decision to suspend the chief justice.

Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was removed from office on 9 March, appeared before a private session of the court.

The crowd included lawyers and political opponents of Gen Musharraf.

Correspondents say the removal of the Mr Chaudhry is being seen as an attempt by Gen Musharraf to stifle judicial independence in an election year.

The judge has a reputation judicial activism in cases involving the controversial privatisation of state assets and the fate of missing people allegedly abducted by the security forces.

The main charge against Mr Chaudhry is that he used his authority to have his son appointed to a prestigious government position.

Mr Chaudhry denies any wrongdoing, and has called for the closed hearings to be held in public.

Advocates angry

Hundreds of people swarmed around the Supreme Court building and grounds as Mr Chaudhry's car arrived.

This struggle is basically for a constitutional rule and democracy in Pakistan
Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry

Angry lawyers were prominent among the crowd, with flags being waved and anti-Musharraf slogans filling the air.

Many held banners, some with slogans such as "Down with Musharraf" and "Musharraf, killer of justice".

One Supreme Court lawyer, Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry (no relation), told the BBC the protests were a struggle for democracy.

"We feel it is time for us all to see that the army dictatorship is finally done away with. We are out for the independence of the judiciary and the rights of the people of Pakistan.

Protesting lawyers clash with supporters of President Musharraf
There were some scuffles among the crowd at the Supreme Court
"This struggle is basically for a constitutional rule and democracy in Pakistan."

Some lawyers beat up people they said were dressed up as lawyers after they chanted slogans in favour of President Musharraf outside the Supreme court building.

Protests also took place in other, especially Lahore and Karachi.

In Lahore, rallies went ahead despite arrests of lawyers and political activists. Lawyers in both cities observed a complete boycott of courts.

The protests are the latest in a series of public displays of anger over Gen Musharraf's handling of the crisis.

A string of lawyers and senior judges have resigned since the decision to suspend Mr Chaudhry.

There have also been bloody clashes between lawyers and police.

Gen Musharraf insists he acted according to the constitution - a view disputed by many legal experts.

Angry demonstrations outside Pakistan's Supreme Court

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